2019 United Kingdom general election

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2019 United Kingdom general election

← 2017 12 December 2019 Next →

All 650 seats in the House of Commons
326 seats needed for a majority
Opinion polls

2019UKElectionMap.svg
A map of UK parliamentary constituencies

Incumbent Prime Minister

Boris Johnson
Conservative



The 2019 United Kingdom general election will be held under the provisions of the Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019 on Thursday 12 December 2019, two and a half years after the previous general election in June 2017. It will be the first UK general election to be held in December since 1923.[1]

Electoral system[edit]

Each parliamentary constituency of the United Kingdom elects one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons using the first-past-the-post voting system. This indirectly elects the government, which is formed by a party or coalition of parties that can command the confidence of a majority of MPs in the Commons. Both majority and minority governments are possible election outcomes.

Voting eligibility[edit]

In order to vote in the general election, one must be:[2][3]

  • on the Electoral Register;
  • aged 18 or over on polling day;
  • either a Commonwealth citizen (within the meaning of section 37 of the British Nationality Act 1981) or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland (section 1(c) of the Representation of the People Act 1983);
  • resident at an address in the United Kingdom,[n 1] or a be British citizen living abroad who has been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years.[n 2][5]
    • Irish citizens who were born in Northern Ireland and qualify as a British citizens, whether or not they identify themselves as such, may also be overseas voters[6]
  • not legally excluded from voting (most notably a convicted person detained in prison or a mental hospital, or unlawfully at large if the person would otherwise have been detained,[7] or a person found guilty of certain corrupt or illegal practices[8]) or disqualified from voting (peers sitting in the House of Lords).[9][10]

Individuals must be registered to vote by midnight twelve working days before polling day.[11] Anyone who qualifies as an anonymous elector has until midnight six working days before polling day to register.[n 3] A person who has two homes (such as a university student who has a term-time address and lives at home during holidays) may be able to register to vote at both addresses as long as they are not in the same electoral area, but can only vote in one constituency at the general election.[13]

Boundaries[edit]

Map showing all 650 UK parliamentary constituencies as equal area hexagons

The election will be contested under the same boundaries for 650 constituencies that have been used since the 2010 general election. The Sixth Periodic Review of Westminster constituencies, tasked by the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 with reducing the number of constituencies to 600, proposed modified boundaries. However, boundary changes are not implemented until they have been approved by both Houses of Parliament, and the government did not submit the proposed changes for consideration before the election was called.[14]

Postal and proxy voting[edit]

Voters in Great Britain may freely apply to vote by post,[15] and voters in Northern Ireland can vote by post if they give a reason they could not vote in person.[16] Postal ballots need to reach the relevant Electoral Office by the time of the close of polls or be handed into the voter's local polling station in order to be counted.[15] Voters may apply to allow another person to cast a proxy vote for them if they can give a valid reason why this is required.[15]

Date of the election[edit]

The deadline for delivery of candidates' nomination papers is 14 November.[17] The election will be held on 12 December 2019, with polling stations opening at 7am and closing at 10pm.[18]

This date occurred despite the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (FTPA), which introduced fixed-term parliaments to the United Kingdom, with elections scheduled on the first Thursday in May of the fifth year after the previous general election.[19] This would have led to an election on 5 May 2022.[20] On 29 October 2019 the House of Commons passed the Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019 which circumvented the FTPA so as to hold a December election.[21] The House of Lords followed suit the following day,[22] with Royal Assent the day afterward.[23]

Due to the impasse about the Brexit withdrawal agreement, some political commentators in 2019 considered an early election to be highly likely.[24] In January 2019 a vote of no confidence in Theresa May's government was called by the Labour Party. If passed, and no alternative government could be formed, this would have resulted in a general election. However this motion failed.[25] After becoming Prime Minister in the summer, Boris Johnson made three attempts at a vote for an early general election under the terms of the FTPA, but each failed to achieve the required two-thirds supermajority.[26][27][28][29] The eventually successful bill, which required only a simple majority to pass (though it could be amended during its passage through Parliament), was proposed by the Liberal Democrat and Scottish National parties on 28 October and adopted by the government the following day (albeit with a Thursday 12 December date rather than Monday 9 December proposed by the opposition parties). An amendment changing the date to 9 December failed by 315 votes to 295.[21] The final Commons vote on the bill passed by 438 votes to 20.[30]

The election will be the first UK general election in December since 1923,[31] and the first general election to be held by virtue of an Act of Parliament.

Timetable[edit]

The key dates are:[32]

Tuesday 29 October
Passage of the Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019 through the House of Commons
Wednesday 30 October
Passage of the Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019 through the House of Lords
Thursday 31 October
Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019 receives Royal Assent and comes into force immediately. The Act sets 12 December as the date for the next parliamentary general election.
Wednesday 6 November
Dissolution of Parliament (the 57th) and official start of the campaign. Beginning of purdah. Royal Proclamation summoning a new Parliament and setting the date for its first meeting issued.
Thursday 7 November
Receipt of writ – legal documents declaring election issued
From Friday 8 November
Notice of election given in constituencies
Thursday 14 November
Nominations of candidates close
Saturday 16 November
Candidates lists are published for each constituency
Thursday 21 November
Deadline to register for a postal vote at 5pm (Northern Ireland)[33]
Tuesday 26 November
Deadline to register for a postal vote at 5pm (Great Britain)[33]
Deadline for registering to vote at 11:59pm[33]
Wednesday 4 December
Deadline to register for a proxy vote at 5pm. (Exemptions apply for emergencies)
Thursday 12 December
Polling Day - polls open 7am to 10pm
Friday 13 December
Results will be announced for the majority of the 650 constituencies. End of purdah.
Tuesday 17 December
First meeting of the new (58th) Parliament of the United Kingdom, for the formal election of a Speaker of the Commons and the swearing-in of members, ahead of the State Opening of the new Parliament's first session.[34][35][36]

Background[edit]

The Conservative Party and Labour Party have been the two biggest political parties, and have supplied every Prime Minister, since 1922. The Conservative Party have governed since the 2010 election, in coalition with the Liberal Democrats from 2010 to 2015. At the 2015 general election the Conservative party committed to offering a referendum on whether the UK should leave the European Union and won a majority in this election. Following a victory for leave, by 51.9% to 48.1%, the UK initiated the withdrawal process in March 2017, and then-Prime Minister Theresa May triggered a snap general election in 2017, in order to support for her planned negotiation of Brexit. The outcome was the Conservative Party winning a plurality but not majority of MPs, hence forming a minority government with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) as confidence and supply partners. Neither May nor her succesor Boris Johnson (winner of the 2019 Conservative Party leadership election)[37][38] were able to secure parliamentary support either for a deal on the terms of the UK's exit from the EU, or for exiting the EU without an agreed deal. Johnson later succeeded in bringing his Withdrawal Agreement to a second reading in Parliament, following another extension until January 2020.

During the lifespan of the 2017 parliament, an unprecedented number of MPs left their parties, most due to disputes with party leadership, with some forming new parties and alliances. In February 2019, eight Labour and three Conservative MPs resigned from their parties to sit together as The Independent Group.[39] Having undergone a split and two name changes, at dissolution this group numbered five MPs who sit as the registered party The Independent Group for Change under the leadership of Anna Soubry.[40][41] Two MPs sat in a group called The Independents (which had at its peak 5 members), one MP created the Birkenhead Social Justice Party, while a further 20 MPs who began as Labour or Conservative ended the Parliament as unaffiliated independents. Seven MPs, from both the Conservative and Labour parties, joined the Liberal Democrats during the parliament, in combination with a by-election gain raising their number from 12 at the election to 20 at dissolution.

Party Brexit positions[edit]

The major parties have a wide variety of stances on Brexit.

The Conservative Party support leaving under the terms of the withdrawal agreement as negotiated by Johnson (amending Theresa May's previous agreement), and this agreement forms a central part of the Conservative campaign.[42]

The Brexit Party are in favour of a "no-deal Brexit", with their leader Farage calling for Johnson to drop the deal.[43]

The Scottish National Party (SNP),[44] Plaid Cymru,[45][46] The Independent Group for Change,[47] and the Green Party of England and Wales[48] are each opposed to Brexit, and propose that a further referendum be held with the option – which they would campaign for – to remain in the EU. This is similar to the Liberal Democrat position, with the additional pledge that a Liberal Democrat majority government (considered a highly unlikely outcome by observers[49]) would revoke the article 50 notification immediately.[50][51][52]

The Labour party position, approved at their 2019 conference, is that a Labour government would renegotiate the withdrawal agreement (towards a closer post-withdrawal association with the EU) and would then put this forward as an option in a referendum against remaining in the EU.[53] The Labour party's campaigning stance in that referendum would be decided at a special conference.[54]

Although the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) are in favour of a withdrawal agreement in principle, they oppose the deals negotiated by May and Johnson as they consider that they create too great a divide between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.[55][56] Sinn Féin, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Alliance all favour remaining in the EU. The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) favour remaining over Johnson's proposed deal.[57]

Contesting political parties and candidates[edit]

Most candidates are representatives of a political party, which must be registered with the Electoral Commission's Register of Political Parties. Candidates who do not belong to a registered party can use an "independent" label, or no label at all. At the 2017 general election, representatives of 71 parties stood for election, and 462 people stood as independents.[58] Following the defections of the 57th Parliament, a number of MPs are standing for re-election as independents.

Great Britain[edit]

Major parties that are contesting this election in Great Britain are shown in the table below with their results at the 2017 general election, ordered by the number of seats they won.

Party Party leader(s) Leader since Leader's seat Last election Seats at
dissolution
Contesting seats
% of
votes
Seats
Conservative Party Boris Johnson July 2019 Uxbridge & South Ruislip 42.4% 317 298 United Kingdom
Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn September 2015 Islington North 40.0% 262 244 England, Wales and Scotland
Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon November 2014 None[n 4] 3.0% 35 35 Scotland
Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson July 2019 East Dunbartonshire 7.4% 12 21 England, Wales and Scotland
Plaid Cymru Adam Price September 2018 None[n 5] 0.5% 4 4 Wales
Green Party of England and Wales None[n 6] 1.6% 1 1 England and Wales
The Independent Group for Change Anna Soubry June 2019 Broxtowe New party 5 At least England
Brexit Party Nigel Farage March 2019 None[n 7] New party 0 Seats in England, Wales and Scotland that were not won in 2017 by the Conservatives[59]

As outlined above, the Conservative Party have governed in coalition or on their own since 2010, and have been led by Boris Johnson since July 2019. Jeremy Corbyn has been Labour Party leader since 2015 and as such becomes the first Labour leader to contest consecutive general elections since Tony Blair. Two other parties contest seats across Great Britain. The first, the Liberal Democrats, were led by Tim Farron at the 2017 election, before he was replaced by Vince Cable. In September 2018, Cable stated his intention to retire and resign as leader[60] and was succeeded by Jo Swinson in July 2019.[61][62] The second, the Brexit Party, were founded in early 2019 by Nigel Farage, former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), and won the most votes at the May 2019 elections to the European parliament. The Brexit Party have largely replaced UKIP in British politics, with UKIP (which gained 12.6% of the vote but just 1 MP at the 2015 election) losing almost all its support and unlikely to stand in most seats.

The Green Party of England and Wales have been led by Jonathan Bartley and Siân Berry since 2018 and will stand in most seats in England and Wales, with their counterparts the Green Party of Scotland standing in Scottish seats. The third largest party in the 2017 election was the Scottish National Party, led by Nicola Sturgeon since 2014, who stand only in Scotland but hold the majority (35 of 59) of seats there. Similarly, Plaid Cymru, led by Adam Price, stand only in Wales where they hold 4 of 40 seats.

Northern Ireland[edit]

While a number of UK parties organise in Northern Ireland (including the Labour Party, which does not field candidates) and others field candidates for election (most notably the Conservatives), the main Northern Ireland parties are different from those in the rest of the UK. Some parties in Northern Ireland operate on an all-Ireland basis, including Sinn Féin.

Party Leader Leader since Leader's
seat
Last election Current
seats
%
(in NI)
Seats
Democratic Unionist Party Arlene Foster December 2015 None[n 8] 36.0% 10 10
Sinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald February 2018 None[n 9] 29.4% 7 7
Social Democratic & Labour Party Colum Eastwood November 2015 None[n 10] 11.7% 0 0
Ulster Unionist Party Robin Swann April 2017 None[n 11] 10.3% 0 0
Alliance Party Naomi Long October 2016 None[n 12] 7.9% 0 0
Independent 2.0% 1 1

Sinn Féin are abstensionist and do not take up any Commons seats to which they are elected.

Electoral pacts and unilateral decisions[edit]

Constituencies where the Unite to Remain pact is active. Colored by which party will stand a candidate.

In England and Wales, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, and the Green Party of England and Wales – parties sharing an anti-Brexit position – have arranged a "Unite to Remain" pact. Labour declined to be involved. This agreement means that in 60 constituencies only one of these parties, the one considered to have the best chance of winning, will stand. This pact aims to maximise the total number of anti-Brexit MPs returned under the first-past-the-post system by avoiding the spoiler effect.[63]

In addition, the Liberal Democrats will not run against Dominic Grieve (independent, formerly Conservative),[64] Gavin Shuker (independent, formerly Labour),[65] and Anna Soubry (The Independent Group for Change, formerly Conservative).[66] The Scottish Green Party is not contesting North East Fife or Perth & North Perthshire in favour of SNP.[67]

The Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage had suggested that the Brexit and Conservative parties could form an electoral pact to maximise the seats taken by Brexit-supporting MPs, but this was rejected by Johnson.[68] On 11 November, Farage then said The Brexit Party would not stand in any of the 317 seats won by the Conservatives at the last election. This was welcomed by the Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly; although he stated that there had been no contact between them and The Brexit Party over the plan.[69]

Map showing electoral pacts in Northern Ireland

The DUP is not contesting in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and the UUP is not contesting in Belfast North so as not to split the unionist vote. Other parties are standing down in selected seats so as not to split the anti-Brexit vote. The anti-Brexit and Republican SDLP and Sinn Féin agreed a pact where the SDLP will not run in Belfast North (supporting Sinn Féin instead) or Belfast East (supporting the Alliance Party), while Sinn Féin will not run in Belfast South (supporting SDLP) or also Belfast East (supporting the Alliance Party).[70] Both parties also proposed not standing against independent MP Sylvia Hermon in North Down, but Hermon subsequently said that she is not standing again. Alliance are not standing down in any seats,[71] describing the plans as "sectarian".[72] The Green Party in Northern Ireland is not standing in any of the four Belfast constituencies,[73] backing the SDLP in Belfast South, Sinn Féin in Belfast North and West, and Alliance in Belfast East. They are considering not standing in North Down.[74]

Campaign[edit]

The campaign period officially began after the dissolution of Parliament on 6 November.[75]

Television debates[edit]

← 2017 debates 2019 Next debates →

ITV will host a head-to-head election debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn on 19 November, hosted by Julie Etchingham.[76] The broadcaster is also planning another debate in which the Liberal Democrats, the SNP, the Brexit Party, the Greens, and Plaid Cymru (in addition to the Labour and Conservative Parties) will be able to participate. Separate debates in Northern Ireland and Wales are also planned. STV are planning to hold a debate in Scotland.[77]

On the BBC, broadcaster Andrew Neil will separately interview party leaders in The Andrew Neil Interviews, and BBC Northern Ireland journalist Mark Carruthers will separately interview the five main Northern Irish political leaders on The View with Mark Carruthers.[78] The BBC also plans to hold a variety of election debates, including a head-to-head debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn on 6 December and a Question Time special featuring Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Jo Swinson and Nicola Sturgeon.[79] BBC Scotland, BBC Wales and BBC Northern Ireland also plan on hosting a variety of regional debates.[80]

Sky News intends to hold a three-way election debate on 28 November and had invited Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson. Swinson confirmed she would attend the debate.[81]

United Kingdom general election debates, 2019
Date Organisers Venue Invitees  P  Present   S  Standing-in   NI  Not invited   A  Absent   I  Invited  
Con Lab SNP LD Plaid Green Brexit
19 November[82] ITV TBA National leaders I
Johnson
I
Corbyn
NI NI NI NI NI
22 November BBC
(Question Time)
Sheffield[79] National leaders I
Johnson
I
Corbyn
I
Sturgeon
I
Swinson
NI NI NI
26 November BBC Wales Pembrokeshire (TBC) Welsh leaders I
TBC
I
TBC
NI I
TBC
I
TBC
I
TBC
I
TBC
28 November[83] Sky News TBA National leaders I
Johnson
I
Corbyn
NI I
Swinson
NI NI NI
29 November[79] BBC Cardiff (TBC) National leaders I
Johnson
I
Corbyn
I
Sturgeon
I
Swinson
I
Price
I
TBC
I
Farage
3 December BBC Wales North Wales (TBC) Welsh leaders I
TBC
I
TBC
NI I
TBC
I
TBC
I
TBC
I
TBC
6 December[79] BBC Southampton (TBC) National leaders I
Johnson
I
Corbyn
NI NI NI NI NI
9 December BBC
(Question Time Under 30)
TBA National leaders I
TBC
I
TBC
I
TBC
I
TBC
I
TBC
I
TBC
I
TBC
10 December BBC Northern Ireland TBA Northern Ireland leaders TBC
10 December BBC Scotland BBC Pacific Quay Scottish leaders I
TBC
I
TBC
I
TBC
I
TBC
NI I
TBC
I
TBC
TBC ITV TBA National leaders I
Johnson
I
Corbyn
I
Sturgeon
I
Swinson
I
Price
I
TBC
I
Farage
TBC STV TBA Scottish leaders I
TBC
I
TBC
I
Sturgeon
I
TBC
NI I
TBC
I
TBC
TBC ITV Cymru Wales TBA Welsh leaders I
TBC
I
TBC
NI I
TBC
I
Price
I
TBC
I
TBC

Endorsements[edit]

Newspapers, organisations and individuals have endorsed parties or individual candidates for the election.

Members of Parliament not standing for re-election[edit]

As of 10 November 2019, 73 MPs who held seats at the end of the Parliament are not standing for re-election.[84][85]

Opinion polling[edit]

The chart below depicts the results of opinion polls, mostly only of voters in Great Britain, conducted from the 2017 United Kingdom general election until the present. The line plotted is the average of the last 15 polls.

Great Britain opinion polling; moving average is calculated from the last 28 days.
  Conservatives
  Labour
  Liberal Democrats
  Brexit Party
  SNP & Plaid Cymru
  Greens
  Independent Group for Change
  UKIP

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Persons without a permanent or fixed address can make a "Declaration of local connection" to a particular location in order to register[4]
  2. ^ Or, in the case of a British citizen who moved abroad before the age of 18, if his/her parent/guardian was on the Electoral Register in the UK in the last 15 years
  3. ^ The deadline for the receipt and determination of anonymous electoral registration applications is one working day before the publication date of the notice of alteration to the Electoral Register (that is the sixth working day before polling day).[12]
  4. ^ Nicola Sturgeon sits as an MSP in the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow Southside. Ian Blackford, MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber leads the SNP in the British House of Commons.
  5. ^ Adam Price sits as an AM in the Welsh Assembly for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr. The party's leader in the Commons is Liz Saville Roberts, the MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd.
  6. ^ Bartley sits as a councillor on Lambeth Council while Berry sits on the London Assembly.
  7. ^ Farage sits as an MEP in the European Parliament for South East England. The party has no MPs in the House of Commons.
  8. ^ Arlene Foster sat as an MLA in the Northern Ireland Assembly for Fermanagh and South Tyrone prior to the collapse of the Assembly. The party's leader in the Commons is Nigel Dodds, the MP for Belfast North.
  9. ^ Mary Lou McDonald sits as a TD in Dáil Éireann for Dublin Central.
  10. ^ Colum Eastwood sat as an MLA in the Northern Ireland Assembly for Foyle prior to the collapse of the Assembly. Eastwood is contesting the general election for the conterminous UK parliamentary seat.
  11. ^ Robin Swann sat as an MLA in the Northern Ireland Assembly for North Antrim prior to the collapse of the Assembly.
  12. ^ Naomi Long sits as an MEP in the European Parliament for Northern Ireland.

References[edit]

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  5. ^ "Representation of the People Act 1985, Section 1". Legislation.gov.uk. Retrieved 24 May 2019.
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